Mini-Reviews: the Marie Kondo (Konmari) Books

Mini-Reviews: the Marie Kondo (Konmari) BooksThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondō, Cathy Hirano
Series: Magic Cleaning #1
Published: October 14th 2014 by Ten Speed Press
Genres: Nonfiction
Pages: 213
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed
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I borrowed The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing and its sequel Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up from a friend and read them both, one after the other, over the course of a weekend. I was hoping for inspiration; I’m moving to a new apartment this month, and as a book addict, that’s always a stressful prospect. While I did decide to hire movers this time (my book collection is intimidating), I didn’t want to pay for people to move stuff that I didn’t love. Also, there’s a lot of entropy in my apartment.

Enter Konmari, Marie Kondo’s art of decluttering and organizing. Basically, the method is this: sort your stuff by category and put it in a pile on the floor. Instead of starting with the premise of deciding what to get rid of, you are instead deciding what to keep. Hold each item in your hands, and see if it sparks a feeling of joy. If not, away it goes.

The first book is simple, and perhaps Marie Kondo does have a bit of an overinflated ego about the success of her method and her business. But in general, the method works, and has helped inspire me to pare down the amount of stuff I own before the move. Some caveats: I am only doing the first step of the konmari process right now. After you have decluttered, there are more tips for organizing and making sure every item that brings you joy has a place where it can be displayed and easily accessible. Instead, the things that I am choosing to keep are going into neatly labeled moving boxes so that I don’t get to the new place and have that “…now what box is that in again?” moment (which is likely to happen anyway).

Mini-Reviews: the Marie Kondo (Konmari) BooksSpark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Marie Kondō
Series: Magic cleaning #2
Published: January 5th 2016 by Ten Speed Press
Genres: Nonfiction
Pages: 291
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed
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The second book, Spark Joy, is more practical than the first. It talks about some categories of things that we don’t think of as joyful, but are necessities. She talks about learning to appreciate those items for the functions they provide. In general, that’s the core of both books–learning to appreciate the things that you have, and learning to let them go when they are no longer making your life better. When I was a kid, my aunts used to refer to our things as our treasures. And really, that’s what they should be.

Marie Kondo has a lot of tips for decluttering books, and assumes that most people have too many. Y’all know me. I am a book blogger book addict, and my books bring me joy. I did pare down some things, like when I own book 3 in a series but not one or two and I’m not realistically going to seek out book one… or my Kafka from college that was being held together by willpower and wishes, but that was quite clearly disintegrating (and also free on Kindle if I need a reread). But in general, most of my possessions are books, and I’m okay with that.

Spark Joy also contains a bunch of diagrams on how to fold stuff. Marie Kondo recommends storing clothes vertically in dressers instead of horizontally, so that nothing falls to the bottom and everything is visible when you open up your drawer. I was skeptical at first, but gave it a try to see what would happen, and like the results so far.

There’s definitely a lot of philosophical new-age type stuff in these books, which may or may not be a turnoff. Mike was particularly perplexed when I told him that “Ideal storage should weave a rainbow through your home.” But in general, the concept has been helping me to decide what to keep and what not to keep when packing for a move, which was what I intended. And in general, I’m happier with the things that I am keeping.

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